Smith sings namesake's praises

Date published: June 18 2013

All Blacks centre Conrad Smith has hailed his namesake Ben Smith ahead of Saturday's Test against France in New Plymouth.

All Blacks outside centre Conrad Smith has sung the praises of his namesake Ben Smith ahead of Saturday's Test against France in New Plymouth.

With the New Zealand holding a 2-0 lead in the series against les Blues All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is set to make several changes to his starting line-up and the older Smith (Conrad) is well aware that he could make way for the Highlanders' utility back (Ben) who has played at right wing in the first two Tests.

“He's [Ben Smith] more than understanding of the position he's in,” Smith told Fairfax Media.

“Like every young All Black he'd love to get a chance.”

The 68-Test veteran believes the younger Smith, who has shone predominantly at full-back or wing this season, has the credentials to eventually replace him as the first-choice number 13 for the All Blacks.

“He's a great player,” he said of Ben.

“Everyone can see that. It will be a change for him but it's something he's dealt with in the past.

“It's a different position and it takes some getting used to. He's more than capable of doing it. I'd love to help him out if that's what the coaches decide.”

With Conrad set to take a sabbatical during New Zealand's end-of-year tour, Ben and other players hoping to take over from him at outside centre for the All Blacks will have plenty to play for ahead of those Tests.

“We know we're going to have an opportunity later in the year,” All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said.

“I guess in the next four or five months we'll wait and see how we want to progress that. Quite frankly Conrad is a pretty good teacher.

“These guys seeing what he does is also part of their learning curve.”